This is our first ever Christmas in our van, and it is proving to be very different from our usual home-grown festive season.
Our Christmas tree has been up since 1 December, the same day we switched on the indoor AND outdoor lights.
At home, I resisted putting up the tree until the last moment, and I have never had outdoor lights. Ever.
Nigel’s childhood plastic nativity scene (minus one sheep) circa Stoke 1967, did come with us however, and it now has pride of place on our table.
Unusually for me at this point in the advent calendar, our Christmas gift shopping is almost done.
I did it yesterday, sitting in the Greek sunshine, at our favourite café, sipping chilled coke. Thank god for Amazon. Now if only they would pay more tax, and better wages, life really would be wonderful.
Talking of which, I downloaded It’s a Wonderful Life earlier in the week, while sipping another coke in the sunshine.
I have even posted a few Christmas cards. Well, postcards of religious icons that now bear the hand-written legend, Merry Christmas. I should point out that I stopped sending Christmas cards seven years ago.
And, hallelujah, I don’t have to worry about choosing a turkey.
Or suffer the panic I endured last year, when I arrived at M&S to pick up the huge food order I had booked weeks in advance, only to discover I had mixed up my days, missed my slot and so had to join the frenzied last minute trolley dash round the Food Hall.
Or was that the year before?
Whatever. This year, we are joining our Greek campsite hosts for their Christmas feast, which old hands Berndt and Annie promise will be fun.
And on Christmas Eve, we are going with Berndt and Annie to the local church for a Greek Orthodox Christmas service.
All I have to do now, two weeks before Christmas, is sit back, enjoy the December sun, read a few more books and plan our 2017 mad dash round Europe. I can’t remember a more relaxed December.
I will miss our grandchildren on Christmas Day of course. And my sons. They are 40 and 36 years old and this will be the first Christmas I have not spent with them.
But they will still get their Christmas presents, and thanks to FaceTime we can join them on Christmas Day.
The sun may be shining, and I haven’t once heard Do they know it’s Christmas, but it’s definitely beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.
Tips for spending Christmas in a van
- Decorate your van, but remember, a few metres of fairy lights go a long way in a van that is barely bigger than a garden shed. And your tree should be no taller than a bottle of wine.
- Make sure you have a bottle of your favourite tipple stored for Christmas Day, whether that is a decent fizz, a nice malt, or an artisan ginger beer. The simplest Christmas lunch is transformed with a nice glass…or two. We’ve got a bottle of Samos dessert wine
- Don’t worry if you can’t cook a traditional Christmas meal. Our Hymer van doesn’t have an oven, and Nigel doesn’t eat meat, so turkey was never going to be on our menu. A fabulous risotto can be truly festive, and BBC Good Food has 30 recipes to choose from.
- Try local traditional Christmas treats. I have become addicted to Melomakarona, a Greek Christmas cookie, richly flavoured with honey, cinnamon, cloves and orange. Pietris, our favourite bakery in Corinth, sells them covered in chocolate.
- Buy your presents online and have them delivered to the lucky recipients. Or like me, get the family gifts delivered to a designated Santa’s Little Helper (in our case, our 12-year-old grandson), who can then wrap and distribute them on the day – with a little help from his mum of course. Amazon sells almost everything, even Bathtub Gin I have discovered.
- Send postcards instead of Christmas cards. They are cheaper, and they will stand out from the crowd of robins and nativity scenes so beloved of Christmas card designers.